I contrived this sentence, but had a hard time explaining how to construct sentences of similar nature, the sentence being

He returned to the city from having travelled the world

Meaning, "[someone] has come back to the city; after the task [traveling the world] has completed"

I'm curious to know if this usage falls under a definition of from, or if it's incorrect grammar altogether.

My gut feeling was to define this phrase as the following:

[action] from having [prior action]

To mean

[action] after [prior action] has completed in its entirety

However, I'm a bit confused on if there are constraints between the [action] and [prior action] (for example, if the two must be related in some way).

Some additional example sentences

  1. I ran outside from having been trapped indoors all day
  2. I am running outside from having been trapped indoors all day
  3. I will run outside from having been trapped indoors all day
  4. I ran outside from having eaten an apple
  5. I am running outside from having eaten an apple
  6. I will run outside from having eaten an apple

#1 sounds natural to me, 2 sounds somewhat awkward but acceptable, and 3 sounding fairly ridiculous (but acceptable).
The same is mirrored for 4, 5, and 6; however, would require additional context (ie. maybe the Apple was preventing me from being able to open the door).

Additional thoughts and resources are highly appreciated! -- Thanks in advance.

  • 2
    From in the example sentence is part of the construction return from. That is, from (along with to) is the automatic preposition that gets attached to return. Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 20:59
  • I'd guess that 'returned to X from Y' needs X, Y to be states, lifestyles, at least one of them being some great venture or position. 'He returned to the country from having worked in the city' falls rather flat. Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 15:53
  • "He returned from shopping" or "He returned from buying groceries" seem fine, so "from" can certainly work with completed activities. But I think the example is mixing up a purely geographical phrase "to the city" with one that's based on finishing an activity "from having travelled the world" (I don't think anyone would object to "He returned to the city from America", for instance). So it's a bit awkward. Nothing ungrammatical though.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 11:27
  • shopping and buying groceries are not completed activities. having shopped and having bought groceries express completion. The present participle expresses ongoing action. That you returned from the task doesn't mean it was expressed aspectually as a completed task.
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 2 at 13:46

3 Answers 3


Simply googling 'define from' returned a second definition being

indicating the point in time at which a particular process, event, or activity starts

So the usage of 'from' that you're using is acceptable semantically. There is the question of pragmatics, still, which would indicate that most of your example sentences don't really sound natural. In my personal opinion, I would reserve it for the past tense and avoid gerunds when using it, but I'm not exactly sure if they're ungrammatical.

  • 1
    I'm sure that this is the 'from + temporal nominative' ('from Tuesday / 1876 / half past six ...' usage, not 'from [significant activity'. (A link would be helpful, to see any example sentences included). Dictionaries can be misinterpreted. Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 10:26

from introduces a prior locus, a prior time, a prior mental, physical, or metaphysical state:

He came to the city from a small village.

He came to the meeting from an earlier meeting.

The retro styling was a blast from the past.

He came to his senses from a stupor.

It changed to a solid from a liquid.

Gradually an order emerged from the chaos.

To the extent that the from having.... examples do not fall into one of those categories, they strike my ear as marginal or almost nonsensical.

I ran outside from having eaten an apple.

Your having eaten an apple is not a prior state but a current state and it will continue to be your state forever. Just ask Adam and Eve. You cannot uneat that apple.

But this would work, but a tad marginally:

I ran outdoors from having been ill and stuck inside.

I think that marginality may be because main verb phrase "ran outdoors" concretely expresses movement-in-space whereas the verb in the from-phrase is expressing physical state rather locus. The main verb and the PP verb can't "clash" categorically.

It's far less borderline with a more abstract verb:

I emerged from having been cooped up indoors.

Least marginal with being

I emerged from being cooped up indoors.


The construction [returned ...] [from] [having] [Ved ...] is reasonably common and used by articulate speakers. Some examples are:

The following is beginning to sound stretched to my ears:

I'd say there are constraints:

  1. The past participle must be of a verb indicating a finished spell / state / activity (having spent / stayed / lived / camped ...) (ie perfective).
  2. The verb refers to residence: there is a locative dimension. I'd say 'worked' arguably qualifies, especially when assisted by 'abroad'.
  3. It is more common for the activity to be reasonably consequential (??He returned to the lounge from having tidied his bedroom / had a nap in his bedroom. Thus I'd consider OP's examples 1-6 inappropriate, though the first example works well.

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